Spring has sprung, sort of ...
With newts in the pond and flying insects glimmering in the sunshine above a host of nearly golden daffodils, spring was definitely in the air the last time I was at Stoneywell, just a pity two days later you'd have thought I was lying. It's been a little stop start this year, which I understand you won't need reminding, as we've all kept our eyes peeled for some spring joy this year.
If anything, prehaps it's given even more time to get the garden and ourselves prepped ready for a good growing season at Stoneywell, and if the temperatures haven't been spring like, the cleanup has been. Clear shed, clear mind. We've prehaps been guilty of having some slighly too naturalistic areas behind the scenes, but we've never been so organised ... I hope. Not that I've completely forgotten about the garden itself, and the team have been hard at work tidying the beds, attending to the paths, scarifying the tennis court and protecting out cut hazel in the garden and wood, amongst other things.
Testing weather at times has also given me a few lessons in understanding just how hardy a lot of the plants are at Stoneywell, but also how finely balanced they are, sitting around 200m above sea level, as ... in the wrong hands ... I've seen a couple of examples of what jumping the gun can mean for plants. Typically, the only plants to show any ill effect from frost are plants pruned in the last month on my orders! Both evergreen, we've pretty much always pruned after flowering later in the year and although there were extenuating circumstances I'll be sure to stick to my guns for now on. No prizes for spotting what I'm talking about if you visit and here's hoping they'll be well recovered before you know it! Everyday's a school day.
On the subject of a visit, now would be a good time not just to spot what the gardener did wrong, but to see an explosion of colour, with the soon to be tropical temperatures (in comparison) around the corner. We're just days away from what promises to be a great daffodil display, the usual early rhododendrons are in bloom, 'Praecox', 'Seta' and 'Cilpinense' to name but three. 'Christmas Cheer' is as confused as the rest of us with the weather, with scores more to follow. I can also see many more of the spring bulbs we planted in late 2016 including Erythronium, Crocus and Scilla showing signs,which is promising.
For us gardeners, there's little time to admire our work at this time of year though, we'll be sunning ourselves in our revamped kitchen garden if you need us.